Monthly Newsletter 

Fall 2004

Well, I guess I am not going to be much of a bloggard, as I have not updated this in over a year, but there is always new stuff. This summer I was again inBelgium, had a great time.  See the writeup here.   I also wrote a travelogue from my earlier trip to Finland in the winter.

For my Europe seminar, I made up an arrangement of Alexander Borodin's "In The Steppes of Central Asia" for 2 tapping guitars (i.e. two ADG's) , or a tapping guitar plus a solo instrument like violin or flute.  I pressed up these at a print shop, and made a few extras, which are available through Clic Music in Brussels for 10 Euros.  I don't have any for sale domestically, but if there ever was a great demand I could get some made.

I am also now a published biographer in Scotland.  Yes, really - my one page biography of Carl Nielsen that is on this web site was used, with permission, by the Dundee Symphony Orchestra for their program.  I am truly honored, and I hear the concert was a great success, they were playing the Helios Overture as part of a Nordic programme.   So exited was I at getting published, that I decided to add a little music essay writing to this web page, in the form of an essay of my experiences following God Street Wine in the 90's.

This fall I did in fact run in the Philadelphia Marathon again, and if you know how to do a little search, you could maybe find a picture on their website of me crossing the finish line.  Not my best race ever, but I finished in one piece.

This month I have been engrossed in a few good books, "Two Sides of the Moon", a dual autobiography of space travellers David Scott and Alexei Leonov, as well as the massive historical novel "Life and Fate" by Vassily Grossman.

Stay tuned for information about some new recordings for 2005!

August 2003

Back from Belgium, had a great time.  See the writeup here.   I have one important piece of information - the PO box in Hopewell is going away, so please don't send any money, fan mail, or videos of Soviet films  there.  For CD's, order from Broadside Electric, for books, order from

Summer 2003

Just a quick note - I am off to Neufchateau for the summer seminar, it should be a great time as always, I am exited that there will be a lot of Bulgarian music that week in the institute, maybe some will trickle down to our class!

Winter 2003

I will be playing a few shows this winter with local jazz phenom Jim Popik.  He is well known as a member of the fusion band Equinox, which plays regularly in the Stone Tavern in bernardsville.  We do originals and lots of tunes from the Real Book.

Listening:  I thought I would share a few thoughts about William Furtwangler's Symphony No. 2.  This was recently recorded, quite well I might add, by Barenboim and the Chicago S.O.

I first heard this on the radio, I thought it sounded like some missing score by Strauss, Bruckner, maybe Mahler.  Maybe that is the best way to describe this.  It is as if there was a 10th Bruckner symphony, written about 1915.  Actually it was written during World War 2, but it has the harmonic language of an earlier time.  I had always thought of Furtwangler as a conductor of the early 20th century - I did not know him as a composer.  Hearing this, you can see the influence of the hundreds of scores he must have conducted during his career.  Aside from the Vienese masters that obviously influenced him, I also hear Rachmaninoff - yes Rachmaninoff.  One of the many lyric themes in the symphony sounds like it was lifted right from the second movement of the Rach. 1st piano concerto.  Also, many of the orchestral textures resemble the Rach. symphony no. 2, which shares the key of E minor with the Furtwangler 2nd.  This symphony's extreme length and absence of chorus (which you usually et with 90 minute symphonies) brings to mind the third symphony by another Russian, Gliere.

My 2003 reading project is "War and Peace", in the Ann Dunnigan translation (as much as I would love to read it in the original languages... I am just a few years away from that level of Russian and French reading comprehention:) If interested in approaching this engaging 1400 page novel, check out a free online version for a few chapters.  This is an older translation (Maude, I think), and if you like this, the newertranslations areactually a little easier to approach.

Fall 2002

Yes I got behind with the news, but I was busy moving (just across town) and there was not that much news anyway.  In 2003, Three Hour Detour will return, with a gig at Failte, in Hopewell, January 3, 2002.  Hope to see you all there!

My summer book reading list included 'Blood and Sand" a really intense novel by Vincente Blasco Ibanez (translated into English), and also the book "Abandon Ship" about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.

I also had a 'tap gathering' at my place last month, and Ola has pictures on his web page. Go to the tapping part of the pge, and click "news".

June/July 2002

I have just completed the first of a series of books of classical music transcriptions.  See here.  this is a book containing the music of Alexander Scriabin.

In July I am going to mbira camp, then there will be Summerjam.

April/May 2002

I have been pretty busy writing new material while 3HD is on hiatus.  I am also planning on going to mbira camp in Berkeley this sumemr, instead of going to Europe, as I had the past few years.  I'll miss Neufchateau, but rest assured I'll be back in 2003.  Though I am telling people that the reason for mbira camp is that that week (first week in July) is the only chance for me to study with Fraderick Mujuru here's the real reason - I can't face Wolfgang again until I have truly mastered the song "Giant Steps" at a fast tempo!

Of course, the question remains - will Ray be in the Philadelphia Marathon this year?  Stay tuned!

February/March 2002

I had a surprise gig on Groundhog Day in Bridgeton, NJ.  Thanks to all form the Warr Guitar Community who turned out to make this gig a success.  The next 3HD gig is March 22, after that we will be on hiatus for a while.  The other two band members will be nurturing their growing familiies while I pursue academic research.  I am doing some harmony and counterpoint work at home, while working on my keyboard skills.  Also I ammaking arrangements of JJ Jonhson, Scriabin, Nielsen, Shona music (all the stuff you see on this web page) for tap guitar and other small groups.

January 2002

Big event - NAMM show see pictures here.  I was there, it was great.

Also new is my JJ Johnson tribute.  Check it out, play his music, testify!

November/December 2001

The gig at Failte Jan 19 will be our last for some time, 3HD is going to go on haitus in 2002.  I'll be doing some othe rprojects, and Broadside Electric is going to be working on releasing 2 new albums.  I am really busy studying and learning songs by JJ Johnson,  well known for his trombone ability but (in my opinion) neglected as a jazz composer.

What I am listening to this month:

October 2001

The gig at Failte Oct 27 is still on, but I have to admit that after the events of 911, the Halowe'en, 'enf of the world" madness that we would have done will be subdued.  Instead, this is a time for us and our audience to come together in a covantent of music.  we can make music to resist fear instead of invoke it.

What I am listening to this month:

September 2001

I am preparing fo rthe next gig at Failte Oct 27.  This will be a big Halloween scare-a-thon like we did in 1999.  I am also making progress on the book (really).  Since I have picked up two new students, this has actually motivated me to write some more exercises and transcribe some songs.

What I am listening to this month:

July/August 2001

Happy Independance Day!  I have returned from Europe, and it was a good time.  See my write-up here.  This year I spent more time doing studious musical things and less time doing beer research.  we are vigourously preparing for our gig at Failte July 28.

What I am reading this month:

What I am listening to this month: June 2001

Happy Solstice.  I just added a little web page devoted to the music of the Russian Composer Alexander Nicoleyovich Scriabin.  Check it out, it has MIDI files of some of the piano music.  I am busy preparing for Summerjam and Europe tap seminar.  I will be performing in Europe in duets with folk harp player Kyle Wohlmut, as well as some solo pieces on the 8 string.  The gig is in Brussles June 29, then the seminar is out in Neufchateau.  I'll also do some beer research while I am there.  Can't wait!

What I am reading this month:

What I am listening to this month:
  May 2001

Happy May Day.  I am busy preparing for Summerjam and Europe tap seminar.

What I am listening to this month:

April 2001

Happy equinox.  I am busy preapring for Summerjam, and the Europe Seminar (Neufchateau, BE), and also a book.  The "book" for tappy instrument players has taken several forms:  a clasiscal music book, a basic lesson book, a book on improvisation, and a special 8 string book.  I may roll all of these into one.  What I am listening to this month:

JJ Johnson: The Brass Orchestra.
13th Floor Elevators:  Easter Everywhere
Dohnyani:  Symphony no. 2 (a work I had heard about only in legend as a youth, but it has finally been recorded)

March 2001

Happy spring time!  Well, it isn't quite spring here in the east yet, but the signs are there. At Three Hour Detour headquarters we are preparing 6 new songs including some old tunes that we never played with Helene, and some cover songs.  The non original material includes two songs by Jon Lord (who turns 60 this year, we will pay tribute on June 9) and a tribute to JJ Johnson, who passed away this past February 4.

What I am listening to this month:

February 2001

Happy Groundhog day!  I have a little down time before my next gig, which is March 24.  Before then I will be playing hte organ for a wedding gig, so I am learning some of that repertoire on the keyboard, real quick.  It should be fun because then I will switch to tappy guitar and play standards while everyone sips their drinks.

In this first year of the new century, I was reflecting back 200 years, on the life of Beethoven.  In other words, what was Beethoven working on RIGHT NOW, this time 200 years ago.  Well, I'll tell you.  There were the works with opus numbers in the late 20's.  This includes the fine piano sonatas op. 26, 27, and 28.  Op. 26 is the one with the funeral march.  Op 27 No. 1 is a great gem, Quasi Fantasia.  The second one form this set also has that name, but we all know it as the Moonlight Sonata.  I have heard the Moonlight about ten million times so Idevote more listening time to the other one. Op 28 is the Pastoral.  This is a nice sonata, and not too hard to play.  It almost reminds me of Schubert a bit, in that it is long winded.  Beethoven also wrote his only string quintet around this time, but I have never heard it.

This music is from the end of Beethoven's early period.  I used to pay not so much attention to the early period, but now I see that this muisc was just as great as much of the later music.  Especially in the piano sonatas, he found it easy to dispense with traditional form structures even in his lowest opus numbers.

Check out the reviews page for some new reviews, and the lessons page for lessons.

January 2001

Happy New Year!

Thanks to everyone who came to the Gryphon Show January 6.  This place has a nice draw on its own (nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd) but it is also nice to see familiar faces.  Our next Detour gig is at Failte in March, and there will be more dates announced soon, including the famous 8th annual Summerjam.

In the realm of serious music I am sketching out my String Quartet #2, which looks to be a major work (it's in italics so I am serious!).  On this same topic I am doing a lot of study of String Quartet scores.  The late Beethoven quartets are slowly opening up to me like and ever opening flower (!).  I got the study scores (you can get them way cheap in the Dover mini edition off Amazon).  I noticed there are really not that many good web pages on the late LVB quartets which is not surprising because this is a very deep topic and an amateur music writer could really get in over his head on this.  I thought about making a web page on this topic, but I'll pass for now.  The pro Beethoven Scholars have already written books on this, which you are not going to find for free on the net.  I found the Joseph de Marlave book "Beethoven's Quartets" to be extremely inciteful and well written.  This was written about 100 years ago in French, but an English translation was published by Dover in paperback about 20 years ago.  This is out of print, but I have an old beat up copy that came from a used bookstore.  If anyone reading this has read any of the more recent books on the LVB quartets, or just wants to rap about these works, e-mail me

I had hoped to make it out to the NAMM show this year to demonstrate my favorite ADG guitars, but it was not in the cards. Maybe next year.  As far as I know I am still the only person recording with these guitars, which is a shame because they play smooth and rock hard!  Though I am dabbling in the pricier Warr Guitars these days, the ADG will remain my axe for live performances with a rock band.  Go ADG!

Here is a picture of me crossing the finish line at the Philadelphia Marathon last November.  The clock says 4:33, but I really finished in 4:28 because it took a few minutes to get to the start line:

What I'm listening to these days:

  What I'm reading these days: Novemer 2000

Happy harvest!

I'm just in from another great mbira weekend workshop.  We do have a gig booked in November, and a few in 2001, plus there will be a very special Broadisde Electric 10th Aniversary Concert December 2, 2000.  I'll be running the Philadelphia Marathon again this year on November 19.  Training takes up much of my weekends.  We'll be back at the Gryphon Cafe in January 2001.

What I'm listening to these days:

October 2000

OK, I'll admit it, I am getting behind, and this is not exactly monthly. We were taking some time off because Joe's wife had a baby. In the mean time, I was busy sailing, playing mbira, studying the music of Carl Nielsen, and playing some gigs with master space musician Paul Mimlitsch. Helene has been busy playing traditional fiddle music for folk dance events.

We do have a gig booked in November, and a few in 2001, plus there will be a very special Broadisde Electric 10th Aniversary Concert December 2, 2000.  I'll be running the Philadelphia Marathon again this year on November 19.  Training takes up much of my weekends.

What I'm listening to these days:

July 2000

The Vermont review just gave a kind review to the Three Hour Detour CD! Click here! The Europe Report is here.

June 2000

Sorry I missed a few months. We were busy with the spring tour. We even got a write up in the Bryn Mawr newspaper. My next gig will be June 30 in Brussels, Belgium. See you there!

Pictures from Summerjam 2000 can be seen here.

March 2000

Happy St Patrick's Day! The spring tour is booked, so check out the gigs page. I am busy working on an extended piece for stage, and also there is an mbira workshop at the beginning of April.

What I am tuning in to:

February 2000

Happy groundhog day! the gig at DTE in Mt. Holly has been cancelled. We are booking a spring tour at this time, so check out the gigs page.The Spring tour kicks off in late March and will go until July.

January 2000

Happy new year! The band has one gig booked so far at, you guessed it, the DTE in Mt. Holly. We are actively pursuing other venues to play in, so keep checking back to the gigs page for up to date information. I have been making a lot of progress on the 8 string, learning the music of the Shona People, as well as a few original compositions.

The sound files for Cinema Inferno and Three Hour Detour are now up on

What I am listening to This Month:

December 1999

Merry Solstice! A new review of Three Hour Detour just appeared on!

The new CD, "Cinema Inferno", is done, you can order it now for $12 + $2 shipping. Yes the introductory sale is over, but I have instituted a low flat rate pricing policy, both CD's are now $12. You can also get them through

See you in the next millenium!

November 1999

Happy Thanksgiving! The new CD, "Cinema Inferno", is done, you can order it now for $10 + $2 shipping.

This month it is just the big league cities, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, as far as gigging is concerned. Then I really have to take it easy, as the Philadelphia Marathon is Nov 21, and I will be in it, if I don't kill myself in the process of training. This is a process that has a beneficial effect on my music, I assure you.

I have been breaking out the 8 string again, and I will be doing some performing on it at Tap Tech. Also stay tuned for new collaborations.

What I'm still listening to this month:

October 1999

Happy Harvest! The new CD, "Cinema Inferno", is done, and is being manufactured at this time. I know this seems to be dragging on forever - there were some technical problems in the manufacturing stage, and we are past those now, so it should be just a few more weeks. There will be information on this web page soon, about the CD, the Cinema Inferno Orchestra, and how you can buy the disc.

Three Hour detour will be back at the DTE October 29 for a massive Halloween scare-a-thon. I am also playing the open mic there every Tuesday in October. I will be doing, bass, guitar, touch-guitar, piano, mbira, you name it!

What I'm listening to this month:

September 1999

Happy Labor Day! The new CD, "Cinema Inferno", is done, and is being manufactured at this time. Hopefully, it will be on sale by the end of the month. It is good to finally be finished with it, it was truly the album that was made in a weekend, but took 5 months to finish. I am very pleased with the results, and I think it captures a certain spontenaity that is truly hard to come by in the studio. It is very different from anything I have released in the past. If you saw those shows that I played with members of The Other Way - we were billed as "The Scary Show" - that was kind of like this record, but different.

There will be information on this web page soon, about the CD, the Cinema Inferno Orchestra, and how you can buy the disc.

I also just completed another Shona music lesson for the tappers at Tap Tech 3. This will be my third year of teaching this topic, and I think that this years will be the best one yet. Markus Reuter (see below) will be the main instructor. It takes place the first weekend in November. In other news, I recently completed work on my Chamber Symphony, which runs about 15 minutes, and is in 3 movements. I'd love to see it staged. Any takers?

What I'm listening to this month:

August 1999

Happy dog days! I just got in from another 10 day mbira camp in Berkeley California, and I am just brimming over with new mbira tunes! The new CD, "Cinema Inferno" is in the mastering stage. There will be information on this web page soon, about the CD, the Cinema Inferno Orchestra, and how you can buy the disc. Three Hour Detour will be back on stage on the 21st, in Mt. Holly. We are also doing the "really big summer party" as a warm up to that event. If you get the chance, check out Broadside Electric at the Philly Folk Fest this year.

What I'm listening to this month:

July 1999

Happy Independance Day! The recording process continues. The CD is tentatively called "Cinema Inferno". Mixdown is scheduled for the secomd week in July. The hot and humid weather continues to push all the instruments to the test, but they are holding up fine. I have begun rehearsals with a percussionist/mbira player with the goal of playing some coffee houses, smaller venues, a "more select audience" as it were. We should be bringing this madness to the Red Bank area soon, you will here about it here first. Three Hour Detour will be back on stage in August.

June 1999

Happy Flag Day!. The recording process continues. This new album will feature many special guests, and should be out by the end of summer. The detour is currently on hold for various reasons, but we shall return in August, stronger than ever. I also am learning to play a new 8 String ADG, which has a different tuning than "Old Mahogany".


Happy May Day! This month will feature a return to my old stomping grounds, New Brunswick, NJ, to perform with Dark Aether Project at the Vault (May 22). There will also be some super-top-secret recording activity going on this month. I've already told you too much!!! look for the CD to be in stores by Halowwen!

April 1999

Happy Easter! We are feverishly preparing for the Freak Fest that will take place on April 9 at the Down To Earth Coffee House, a fine gathering place in Mt. Holly, NJ. We do have a gig booked for late April with Adelante.

Last month I had the good fortune to take a lesson on guitar from Germany's Markus Reuter (see below). He taught me a lot about Alexander Technique, and the physics of touchstyle. Then he taught me some crafty finger exercises. All in one hour. How's that for German efficiency!

March 1999

The big March concert event was Jeff Pearce's apparance in Philadelphia March 6. This concert, a Stars End Gathering, was absolutely phenominal. The acoustics of Saint Mary's Church on the Penn campus gave an extra dose of natural reverb to Pearce's soaring loops. This was one of the few concerts I have been to where I felt that by the end of the show I was "taken to another place". During the peak moment of one number, called "Rain as a Metaphor" thunder from outside the church roared in on cue to compliment Jeff's immense mountain of sound. Jeff also gave a nice talk beforehand, where he showed how he used his special knife to get unique textures out of the guitar.

Ma Ja Le was also really good. I was not as familiar with this band's work but their interplay between guitars, synths, wind instruments and percussion was very effective at creating trippy soundscapes. You also gotta' admire two guys who drove all the way from Milwaukee to Philadelphia with a truckload of gear to play this gig!

What I'm listening to this month:

February 1999

Happy Groundhog's Day. Here at the compound it looks like there will not be six more weeks of winter and there is water in the stream for the first time in 4 months (nothing but rain). I am taking time off from performing to write music, and study mbira, while Joe and Helene are busy making a record with Broadside Electric. We do have a gig booked for late April with the Ozone Quartet, it should be a lot of fun.

What I'm listening to this month:

Thanks to everyone who came to the January 2 show. I think we all truly risked our lives getting home from that one, due to the sheet of ice that covered everything. That will teach me to taunt mother nature from the bandstand! Another great show that I attended as an audience member took place in Red Bank at the end of December. Go Bananna!

January 1999

Happy new year! We have a show coming up at the Lion Fish in Philly January 2. After that there will be a little bit of a break, as Helene and Joe go into the studio with Broadside Electric to generate their next opus. I may be doing some solo dates with the new ADG during that time. I will also be away at an mbira workshop later in January.

I think it is time to reflect on the best of 1998. There were a lot of good releases, so I will just list those that I thought really stood out:

Best CD's:

Also, thanks to everyone who bought the Three Hour Detour CD, or came to any of our shows!

December 1998

One of the highlights of this past month was the Tap Tech 2 seminar and performance in Baltimore Maryland. There are photos of this event on this web page. It was great meeting other two handed tappers, and good to see such a wide variety of instruments being employed this way. There were 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12 stringed electric fretboards being hammered on by students of all levels. I had a lot of fun teaching the song "Taereva" to the group during my Shona music lesson held on Sunday. The other highlight was the performance given by Dark Aether Project. Their rendition of Dark Aether was absolutely mind melting!

Another concert event of November was Tute Chigamba's first appearance in NYC. I was lucky enough to get a lesson on Marenje from him before the show. I also recently took delivery on a Dambotsoko tuned mbira later this month, made by Fraderick Mujuru. There are a lot of great tunes that are played by the Mujuru Clan, it seems, exclusively on the Dambotsoko type instrument.

Coming up in December we have a Three Hour Detour gig at the Down to Earth, and then a January 2 appearance at the Lion Fish. We have at least one new song to debut plus some of the older material Joe and I used to play as a duet is finding its way into the 3HD repertoire. There will also be some new sounds, in the form of my new Austin Douglas Guitar. The body and neck of this instrument are made from solid mahogany, which gives it a warm, chocolatey clean tone that turns into creamy distortion when I overdrive the amp a little. I love the dynamic control I have over my tone, when using a little overdrive I can adjust the whole tonal spectrum by increasing the forcefulness of my tapping. It is also the smoothest feeling instrument of its kind that I have ever played. I am very pleased to be bringing my music to this instrument, which I think is the finest electric instrument that I have ever owned. Come, this winter, to hear me play again, for the first time :)

I have been working on my tappy transcriptions, and I am contemplating putting out a Bach book for us tappers. If anyone has any intrest in such a thing, send me e-mail and I just might finish it up. I recently revised the Bach transcription on the TouchStyle web page. You will find this downloadable file on the "music" page there. I found one small mistake on my previous edition, plus I added some more voices from the original to the transcription. If you have already downloaded this, please get it again, so you have the latest copy.

Happy Holidays,